7 Geeky Ways to Prank Windows Users

Prank Windows User Featured Pink

Looking for a nerdy or geeky way to prank someone? Look no further. This guide contains the ultimate creative pranks to play on your friends using Windows.

If your friend is an avid user of Google’s browser, check out Chrome extensions for pranks.

1. Make Desktop Shortcuts Unclickable

This is a devious, frustration-inducing prank that will make it seem like nothing on the computer is clickable.

  1. Close any open windows so that only the Windows desktop is visible, then press Windows + Shift + S to open the Snipping Tool (Snip & Sketch in Windows 10).
  2. Click the “Fullscreen mode” icon.
Prank Windows User Snipping Tool Fullscreen
  1. This will instantly take a screenshot of the entire screen.
Prank Windows User Snipping Tool Notification
  1. Open the Paint app on your PC.
Prank Windows User Search Paint
  1. Press Ctrl + V to paste the screenshot into Paint.
Prank Windows User Paint Paste
  1. Click “File -> Save as -> PNG picture” to save the file on your PC.
Prank Windows User Paint Save As Png
  1. Back in Paint, click “File -> Set as desktop background -> Fill.”
Prank Windows User Paint Set As Background
  1. Right-click an empty space in the Windows taskbar, then click “Taskbar settings.”
Prank Windows User Task Bar Settings
  1. Scroll down a bit and click “Taskbar behaviors,” then check “Automatically hide the taskbar.”
Prank Windows User Task Bar Settings Automatically Hide
  1. Close the Settings app window, then press Ctrl + A to select every icon on the desktop or click and drag to manually select all of the visible icons.
Prank Windows User Desktop Selection Rect Icons
  1. Hold down Ctrl and click the Recycle Bin to deselect it.
  1. Drag and drop the remaining selection into the Recycle Bin. This trashes all of the real icons on the desktop and leaves only the Recycle Bin. The icons will look like they’re still there, though!
Prank Windows User Desktop Recycle Bin Remaining
  1. Press Windows + R to open the Run dialog box. Type in desk.cpl ,,5, then press “OK.”
Prank Windows User Run Desktop Icon Settings
  1. In the “Desktop Icon Settings” window, uncheck Recycle Bin.
Prank Windows User Desktop Icon Settings Uncheck Recycle Bin
  1. If you check the desktop now, all the icons will look perfectly normal. However, if you try to click, right-click, or interact with the icons in any way, nothing will happen. The icons in the taskbar will also not be clickable. Prank success!
Prank Windows User Desktop Finished Unclickable

Reverse the Prank

  1. If you want to undo the prank, repeat steps 12 and 13 above and check the Recycle Bin again to re-enable it.
  2. Double-click the restored Recycle Bin icon on the desktop to open it.
  3. Click “Original Location” to sort the deleted files by location, and you’ll see the Desktop icons rise to the top. You may have to click “View -> Details” first.
  4. Select those files, right-click them, then click “Restore.”
Prank Windows User Recycle Bin Restore Desktop Icons

Have an extra game controller around the house? Learn how to use the controller as a mouse in Windows.

2. Change the Mouse Cursor to Look Like It’s Always Loading

This prank is guaranteed to annoy your victim by making it look like something never finishes loading.

  1. Press the Windows key, type “pointer,” then click “Change the mouse pointer display or speed.”
Prank Windows User 2 Search Pointer
  1. Click “Pointers -> Normal Select -> Browse.”
Prank Windows User 2 Pointer Customize Normal Select Browse Rectangle
  1. Click “aero_busy.ani” and hit “Open.”
Prank Windows User 2 Pointer Customize Aero Busy Open Rectangle
  1. Click “Apply.” You should see that the “Busy” animation has replaced the “Normal Select” icon and that the mouse cursor is now a spinning blue loading animation wherever you point it!
Prank Windows User 2 Pointer Aero Normal Always Busy

3. Make Browser Shortcuts Always Open a Funny Webpage of Your Choice

Surprise your prank victims by making their browsers display hilarious or confusing web pages when opened.

  1. Right-click on a browser shortcut icon of your choice and click “Properties.”
Prank Windows User 3 Firefox Right Click
  1. Switch to the “Shortcut” tab, click inside the “Target” text box, then paste the text -url https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ at the very end, i.e., outside of the end quotation mark. The full text in the “Target” box should look something like the following:
"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -url https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Prank Windows User 3 Firefox Properties Shortcut Target Youtube
  1. The YouTube URL links to “Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up (Official Music Video),” known for being used to rickroll people since 2008. You can replace this with any URL. Double-clicking the browser icon will open your chosen webpage.

This method will also work for browsers other than Firefox, such as Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.

Tip: learn how to enable dark mode on Google Chrome.

4. Make Browser Shortcuts Start a Shutdown Command

This prank is sure to give people a fright by making it look like their browser is throwing a tantrum, refusing to work, and turning off the computer.

  1. Open the Notepad app on your PC.
Prank Windows User 4 Search Notepad
  1. Paste in the text:
shutdown -s -f -t 60 -c "I'm tired of being your browser! I quit!"
  1. In the command above, shutdown means you are invoking Windows shutdown, while the -s flag specifies that you want a complete shutdown instead of a logoff. The -f is there to force all open applications to close without any warning message and may result in unsaved data being lost. -t 60 means the shutdown will happen after 60 seconds. You can customize the number to any other number of seconds.
  2. Finally, -c "I'm tired of being your browser! I quit!" will display the message inside the double quotes in a pop-up window. Of course, you can customize the message.
Prank Windows User 4 Notepad Pasted
  1. Save it as a batch file by clicking “File -> Save as,” then browse to a location beside the desktop to keep this file hidden. Type .BAT (the batch file extension) at the end of the file name.
Prank Windows User 4 Notepad Save As
  1. Change “Save as type” to “All files.” Saving as a batch file is important, as Windows needs to know to interpret this file as a command instead of plain text.
  2. Find your saved file, right-click on it, and click “Copy as path.”
Prank Windows User 4 Shutdown Batch Copy As Path
  1. View the desktop, right-click on a browser shortcut icon and click “Properties.” We’ll use Mozilla Firefox in this example.
Prank Windows User 3 Firefox Right Click
  1. Under the “Shortcut” tab, delete everything in the “Target” text box and replace it with the .BAT file path.
Prank Windows User 4 Firefox Properties Shortcut Paste Shutdown Bat Apply
  1. You should see the browser icon change.
  2. Still in the “Shortcut” tab, click “Change icon” to see an alert window appear. Hit “OK.”
Prank Windows User 4 Firefox Properties Change Icon Choose Ok
  1. When you see the “Change Icon” window, click “Browse.”
Prank Windows User 4 Firefox Properties Change Icon Window
  1. Browse to the installation location (usually a folder inside “C:\Program Files”) of the browser’s executable file. Look for a file that has the same icon that the original browser shortcut icon had and click “Open.”
Prank Windows User 4 Change Icon Browse C Program Files Mozilla Firefox
  1. You should see the “Change Icon” window populated with icons related to the browser. Choose the one that looks closest to the original icon, which is usually the first one on the list.
Prank Windows User 4 Change Icon Mozilla Firefox Exe Icons
  1. Back in the browser shortcut properties window, click “Apply” to see that the desktop icon has been updated with the original browser icon.
Prank Windows User 4 Firefox Properties After Change Icon Applied
  1. Double-click the browser icon to see Windows display a shutdown alert with your custom message!
Prank Windows User 4 Shutdown Alert Browser

Fun fact: shutting down the computer on a timer is a seriously useful trick and not just for pranking people.

5. Sabotage Microsoft Word’s Autocorrect to Insert Typos or Funny Phrases

This prank is perfect for anyone who regularly uses Microsoft Word.

  1. In Microsoft Word, type “autocorrect” in the search bar at the top, then click “Options: Spelling and Proofing,” or go to “File -> Options -> Proofing.”
Prank Windows User 5 Microsoft Word Search Autocorrect
  1. In the window that appears, click the “AutoCorrect Options” button.
Prank Windows User 5 Microsoft Word Auto Correct Options
  1. Replace the word “the” with the word “thé” which includes an accent mark. Make sure the “Replace text as you type” option is checked at the top and click “Add.”
Prank Windows User 5 Microsoft Word Auto Correct Replace As You Type
  1. You can keep adding funny text replacements, like replacing the word “good” with “terrible.” When you’re done, click “OK” at the bottom.
Prank Windows User 5 Microsoft Word Auto Correct Replace Text As You Type Good Terrible
  1. Return to the Word document and try typing something. You’ll notice that words will automatically be replaced by the new ones you specified.
Prank Windows User 5 Microsoft Word The Good Terrible Words Replaced

As an aside, this prank doubles as a productivity tip that can help you write faster. You can replace certain abbreviations for phrases like “omg” with “oh my god” in order to type the full phrase.

6. Place a Scary Time-Dependent Message in the System Clock

If you know someone who uses their Windows PC all day, you can give them a funny or scary message at noon.

  1. Press the Windows key, type “region,” then click the “Region” option with the colorful globe icon, NOT “Region settings.”
Prank Windows User 6 Search Region Settings
  1. Click “Additional settings” in the window that appears.
Prank Windows User 6 Region Additional Settings Ellipse
  1. Click the “Time” tab, then type in your message in the “PM symbol” text box.
Prank Windows User 6 Region Time Customize Format Behind You Pm Symbol
  1. You will see your hilarious (or terrifying) result!
Prank Windows User 6 System Clock Behind You

Note: these instructions will display the message when the time switches to a PM time. You can easily do the reverse or have the message always visible if you also change the “AM symbol” text.

7. Replace the Windows System Sounds With Funny Alternatives

You can replace a few or even all of the Windows sounds with sounds that are hilarious or unexpected.

  1. Open the Settings app and click on “Sound.”
Prank Windows User 7 Settings Sound Rectangle
  1. Scroll down to “More sound settings” and click it.
Prank Windows User 7 Settings More Sound Settings Rectangle
  1. Switch to the “Sounds” tab. In the “Program Events” section, click on the type of sound you want to replace, then click “Browse.”
Prank Windows User 7 Settings Sound Program Events Close Program Browse
  1. Browse to a new sound, which must be a .WAV file. Select the new file and click “Open.”
Prank Windows User 7 Settings Sound Browse Funny Voice Recording Wav
  1. The new sound will be applied to the event you picked! Replace more sounds if you wish. How about making the PC sound haunted with one of these ghostly sound schemes?

Want to have even more fun in Windows? Check out the best Windows 10 and 11 Easter eggs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I abort a Windows shutdown command in the terminal?

If you’ve accidentally given the command to shut down a computer but want to stop it, open the Terminal app, type the command shutdown -a, then press Enter. You should see a Windows notification letting you know that the shutdown process was canceled.

Can I disable just the Windows system sounds?

Yes. You can leave the browser, applications, or games at full volume, while only disabling Windows system sounds via “Settings app -> Sound -> More sound settings -> Sounds.” Click the “Sound Scheme” drop-down and select “No Sounds.”

What are some text replacements I can set up with autocorrect to type faster?

Many programs have the ability to automatically replace typed with some other text you specify. Listed here are some ideas for abbreviation replacements to quickly type a lot of words:

  • fwiw: for what it’s worth
  • iirc: if I remember correctly
  • afaik: as far as I know
  • tbh: to be honest
  • omw: on my way

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Brandon Li.

Brandon Li
Brandon Li

Brandon Li is a technology enthusiast with experience in the software development industry. As a result, he has a lot of knowledge about computers and is passionate about sharing that knowledge with other people. While he has mainly used Windows since early childhood, he also has years of experience working with other major operating systems.

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